Using sunlight for sustainable and cheap production of, for example, medicines. The ‘mini-factory’ in the form of a leaf that chemical engineers from Eindhoven University of Technology presented in 2016 showed that it is possible. Now the researchers have come with an improved version: their ‘mini-factory’ is now able to keep production at the same level, irrespective of the variation in sunlight due to cloudiness or time of the day. As a result, this boosts the average yield by about 20%. This is due to a clever feedback system costing less than 50 euros that automatically slows down or speeds up production. This has removed a significant practical barrier for green reactors that operate purely on sunlight.
With their ‘artificial leaf’ researchers, under the guidance of the Eindhoven chemical engineer Timothy Noël, reaped a lot of admiration about a year and a half ago. First they succeeded in making chemical reactions possible with sunlight – something that had previously seemed almost impossible. Chemists had dreamed of this possibility for ages, but the problem was that the amount of sunlight was not sufficient.
Their breakthrough can be partly attributed to the use of relatively new materials (so-called luminescent solar concentrators) that seal in a specific part of the sunlight inside, in a similar way to plants that do this using special antenna molecules in their leaves. The second discovery was to apply very thin channels in these materials, through which liquids are pumped thereby exposing the liquids to sufficient sunlight to allow chemical reactions to take place. The end products then flow out at the extremities of the channels.
One of the biggest practical problems to apply this on a large scale is that there is not always the same intensity of sunlight. Because, for example, the sky is cloudy or the sunlight varies in intensity and composition during the day. “If there is too much light, you get unwanted by-products and if there is too little light, the reactions do not take place or do so too slowly,” Noël explains. “Ideally, the system should automatically adapt to the amount of incoming sunlight.”
The feedback system developed does exactly that. It consists of just three relatively simple elements. A light sensor measures the amount of light that reaches the channels. A microcontroller translates this signal to a pump speed. And the pump drives the fluids through the channels at that speed. All this costs less than 50 euros. Experiments to determine the required pump speed for a specific light intensity enabled the researchers to optimize the feedback loop.
In addition to lab testing under artificial light, they also tested their system outdoors in natural sunlight, on top of the roof of one of the buildings on the TU/e campus. At a yield setting of 90%, the system kept production stable for an hour at between 86% and 93%. The same system without feedback looping varied significantly between 55% and 97%. The average yield was increased by about 20% thanks to the feedback loop.
According to Noël, this brings a cheap and sustainable reactor considerably closer to being able to produce chemical products on a large scale, wherever you want, with only sunlight as an energy source. “It is inevitable that energy prices will rise. And with a source of energy like the sun that is free and available, these kinds of technological solutions can make the difference.”
The Latest on: Green reactors
via Google News
The Latest on: Green reactors
- The plan to turn blighted houses into a new source of green power for the gridon August 3, 2022 at 9:24 am
A California nonprofit is retrofitting homes to make a "virtual power plant" — and fighting gentrification at the same time.
- Manchin Deal Tosses $30 Billion Lifeline to US Nuclear Reactorson August 3, 2022 at 9:02 am
Struggling nuclear reactors would get a $30 billion lifeline under the Democrat’s climate change and tax bill that could save dozens of nuclear power plants from an early retirement. Most Read from ...
- Judgment in application to halt Eskom’s gas power plant in Richards Bay reservedon August 3, 2022 at 4:25 am
Two environmental organisations have asked the court to stop the authorisation for a 3 000 megawatt gas-to-power plant in Richards Bay ...
- Lomborg: Green energy goals from rich nations mean poor go without poweron August 2, 2022 at 8:00 pm
This promised nirvana is a sham consisting of wishful thinking and green marketing. The world’s rich would never accept off-grid, renewable energy.
- TNB aims to accelerate green agendaon August 2, 2022 at 7:07 pm
Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) plans to build new, cleaner power plants at existing Kapar and old Paka sites as it fast tracks its green energy blueprint announced last year to achieve net zero emissions ...
- reduce: OQ Chemicals Switches to Green Power and Cuts CO2 Emissionson August 2, 2022 at 5:01 am
On its path to becoming a climate-neutral company, OQ Chemicals is switching to electricity from renewable sources, so-called green power, at its sites worldwide as part of its ‘reduce’ program. To ...
- US Regulators to Certify First Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Designon August 2, 2022 at 4:42 am
The company's pint-sized nuclear reactor has numerous safety benefits over larger reactors, and the small size makes it possible to build them at a centralized facility before shipping them to their ...
- Increasing oil prices could reduce the development of green energyon August 2, 2022 at 3:52 am
Increasing oil prices may lead to a reduction in the development of green energy, as oil is still necessary for a green transition ...
- Indian River Power Plant shutdown delayed for 4 years. Why your electric bill will rise?on August 2, 2022 at 1:50 am
Delaware's only coal-fired power plant, set to shut down last month, will remain open through 2026 for power grid upgrades.
via Bing News